Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Years Day Run and other thoughts

My favorite annual celebration is only a few days away...No not New Years eve but New Years Day run on the Calstreet loop. I really do not know the origins of this annual "unorganized" run but I have been there since 2001. I have battled rain, a foot of snow in Foresthill, very high stream crossing and slugging it through Sandy Bottom to run this with friends..I suspect a lot of newbies to be there this day where we run 18miles from Foresthill to Drivers Flat Staging area. It is just such a thrill to wake up early new years day...with a clear head and thoughts that the day will be fun that keeps me going back year in and year out. Breakfast to be served after and talk of what everyones running plans for the coming year will be discussed. Oh such joy!
Only one downer the person I would like to usher in the new year is gonna be on the central coast and not able kick my butt out of bed and say..."Go run..I am heading back to sleep". As I write this I am thinking...Gad you really are crazy! It is only one day of running but a very important watermark day and new years eve will take a back seat. Six months from now I want her seeing me finish the race of my life. So the eye on the prize is Finish strong Western States with my friend greeting me with a smile and hug as I cross the line (that is if she can hug a pretty dirty, sweaty me)...

Other than that I am excited. Waiting to see what my January training will look like and talk to my coach. Even though I have Pacifica on the calendar for January 23 I need to review how this fits in the training. My December mileage has been what I consider low but this light month has helped build some speed and get the legs and mind ready for the months to come.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

New Years Day a coming countdown to offiical training..

One holiday down and one more to go..Then the official start of Western States 2010 training cycle begins. A friend will be coaching me through this and just getting her to take me on as a client in December has helped already. I have known her for years since I first came to California. Funny I started running with her in 2000 and could not figure out why her and her husband kept my lungs and legs busting as I tried to keep up with them...Well it turned out she was/is a very good runner in Sacramento area, run WS well in the 90's and now focus's on coaching cross country, and select clients in the area. That said she had me focus the month of December on a few things...
1)Take down the mileage and focus on buiding some leg speed on short 6 mile runs during the week.

2)Go to gym and focus on light weight and core build up

3)Enjoy December....January will start the ramp up...

With this I really started thinking about each day and make the most of it even as I travelled on business. So I end December being in what I consider my best overall shape for this time of year in a long time...No real injuries...

I have also been spending some time reading blogs on individuals experiences at Western States in 2009. I want to read more about what images people had about Western States from those that do not live in the area and train in different conditions. Granted there are the elite but I wanted to see the average runner coming in. Some of my observations:

1)Why does every runner coming into WS say that they will break 24hrs? This seems to be some kind of disease for the average runner on their first attempt at WS. Reality in the statistics is that only about 20% of all runners that finish come in under 24 hours. So right from the start many of these bloggers set themeselves up for FAILURE!

2)Expecations..One runner that finished in 28hrs had written for months that on that day she was finishing in 22hours..This from a runner that had never run 100. The training in her blog never reflected that it was something in her grasp. Be real in what is possible. For a first time runner that has never covered the distance...Consider finishing to be the goal and everything else past that is bonus. Granted there are exceptions but again...20% or less that finish get a silver buckle.

3)Training must be solid: I read many a blog where the weekly mileage, downhill and heat trainng where so low that these runners really did suffer out there by not being prepared. They finished but where not ready at all for what the course brings...HEAT and downhill.

4)Drop Bag items, food and crew review...Again I saw errors in reading that lack of time spent really reviewing these items leading up to race day...When the day hit there seemed to be a lot of failure here.

I may appear critical of these runners but Western States is still a 100mile race...Once the day starts you better be ready. For many of us this can be a one time shot. So listen, read, ask questions, have some input with a group of folks that have been on the course, have finished the race to give you honest assessment on what it takes to finish the race..have a coach that can get you to the line injury free and ready. After that anything can happen that day...I have a lot of friends that where ready, had trained, but something happend that made them dnf...I know that can happen I just want a chance to toe the line healthy and ready.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Week after Lottery--Planning begins

Running on the Dipsea Course--A stunning view

One week after the lottery and seeing the final names begin to appear on the participant list for 2010. A few more friends have gotten in and the final aid stations selections will yield a few more. The one benefit for living local is knowing many of the captians that staff the aid stations on the course. These offer up one spot each year for doing all that work. So friends that don't get selected begin seeing who has an aid station slot available.

For me I meet with my coach for the first time and set up a December training schedule. Not a lot of heavy running but some core work at the gym and short runs focused on easy with strides on flat sections. It feels good knowing that this is only 6 months off..its REAL. So I want to make the most of each day. The temptation is just listening to other friends running schedules and not following my plan. One friend asked about running 30miles on Saturday..sounds good but I want to follow a routine that will get me to the line healthy and ready.

I have not selected my crew or pacers yet though I have set out some feelers for crew. I don't expect that to be complete till spring. I dropped the dollars for lodging in Squaw and a hotel near the track. Even though I live 10miles from the finish having that room so close will be important. Next up for me is trying to figure out some of the items I need to think to order..ie shoes, inserts, shirts with sponsor names from Auburn Running and Mosters of Massage, headlamps and hand held flashights. Get in my 8 hours of trail or volunteer work...see if I want to spend extra time up near squaw to acclimate for altitude...check on work schedule..oh yea...gotta work during this training..All fun.

See you all on the trails..Tony

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lottery Weekend and the debates rage on...

Anyone on the planet that has run an ultra seems to have been tuned in online for the past weekends Western States Lottery. 270 names drawn from the new electronic GUbucket, folks watching online and about 200 in attendance in the Placer High Cafeteria. Having already been on the invite list for months I too got caught up in reading as many folks opinions and thoughts on the event via blogs and friends posts on Facebook. It was fun seeing all the excitement build there where good and bad emotions discussed on these blogs.

Being from the area and running, enjoying the trails it is sooooo easy to see it as your own..After all I did work at Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky District..385,000 acres and often it was me and 5 other souls playing in the park...do we want to share or let others in..I often enjoyed showing the park but also loved closing the gate and having it just be MINE...ok a selfish act but the silence and beauty are such that I did not want it spoiled. So I can understand many opions seeing that Western States needs to be changed to remain viable to its own legend it has built over the years. No matter what I did however would stop people from discovering this area and today its still remote, still beautiful but visited by a new generatation of adventure seekers all wanting to experience what I had...Can the same be said for Western States? I would say yes. I was not part of the original group and I get to see Gordy Ansleigh, talk to Tim Twietmeyer, Ann Trason all legends of the trail..Each has there own view on the race, the trail, the experience. Perhaps my opinion about the race is best as a visual I saw last year at Western States 2009....I was pacing friend Rena Schumann coming in to finish her
9th Western States and go for the 1000mile buckle in 2010. As we where making our final climb up the "Black Hole" to Robie Point...Running down and Smiling was Tim Twietmeyer..(yea that is right 25 time sub 24hour finisher)He was running down offering encouragement to those runners getting close to the 30hr cutoff at Nohands..He wanted those runners who had been out there long after the elites had finished, had been out all night and now into the middle of the second day to finish the race and get their buckle..Later at the finish hugging these same runners..those that did not WIN the race but finished the race where just as important as the sub 24silver buckle group..He simply wanted to show he cared for those folks, the trails and the event itself...For that I see no point to change the event, keep it as it is, enjoy the course, the training, the day.

It was really disappoining to not see all of my friends get drawn but it has become a bigger race that dreams are made of...Good Luck to all that got picked and I will see you at the line June 26,2010.